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Scottish Medical Training

Scotland - the home of medical excellence

Speciality: Clinical Oncology

Programme Description
GMC Reference: SES2082

There are currently 46 Scottish training posts based in 4 centres.

Trainees are based in one centre, and attend peripheral clinics and multidisciplinary meetings in other hospitals in the region as part of their training. Applicants are required to rank the four centres in a similar way to the overall UK recruitment ranking system.  Having ranked the Scottish Training Programme on the UK recruitment system, applicants then rank each centre in order of preference, and any centre that the applicant does not wish to consider is indicated also. The training scheme is administered by the South East Deanery.

  • Aberdeen has 6 NTNs (North of Scotland) and is based at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
  • Dundee has 4 NTNs (East of Scotland) and is based at Ninewells Hospital
  • Edinburgh has 11NTNs (South East Scotland) and trainees are based at the Western General Hospital and visit peripheral hospitals for clinics.
  • Glasgow has 21 NTNs (West of Scotland) and is based at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow

Trainees based in Aberdeen or Dundee will spend 4 to 12 months equivalent in either Edinburgh or Glasgow, in order to fulfil requirements for the more uncommon tumour types. The timing and location of these attachments is decided in consultation with the individual trainees. Trainees based in Edinburgh and Glasgow are encouraged to spend time in another centre, but this is not mandatory. 

General Information

Each city has a high standard of living, with large numbers of cultural and sporting opportunities and excellent transport links to the rest of UK and Europe. There is easy access from all of the centres to the beautiful and diverse Scottish countryside, which includes the renowned Highlands, stunning beaches and a plethora of Islands to explore. For those who wish to experience total peace and quiet, Scotland still has large areas of true wilderness only accessible by boat or on foot. For the outdoor enthusiast activities include hill-walking, mountaineering, water-sports, fishing and an abundance of wildlife to see. There is rich Cultural Heritage and a vibrant Arts community.

Scotland has a highly renowned and integrated health system that has opted not to have the commissioning system.   

Training information

Trainees will visit peripheral hospitals with consultant colleagues within the regions to attend clinics and multidisciplinary meetings.

Comprehensive training is provided according to the College Curriculum in all aspects of Clinical Oncology, including the major and minor specialties. There are close links with the allied specialties of Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine and the other relevant surgical and medical specialities. Each Scottish centre takes pride in the high level of pastoral care they offer, ensuring their trainees have excellent work/life balance, and we have many trainees who have opted for less than full time training. Trainees attend regular subspecialist national masterclass training days, and there is regular departmental teaching in all centres. All trainees will have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials with options to run phase I and II trials. Trainees are able to undertake out of programme experience for research or to gain higher skills in new radiotherapy techniques and several recent trainees have undertaken fellowships abroad. There are high pass rates in both FRCR part 1 and part 2 (80% in recent sittings) and the training schemes score highly on surveys. There is a dedicated part I FRCR teaching programme based in Glasgow, for all Scottish trainees, which was designed and implemented with the part I curriculum at its core.

A part 2 FRCR clinical mock exam course takes place twice yearly in Glasgow for all Scottish trainees.

There is a Scottish Radiotherapy research group which meets at least annually.

Trainees in Scotland benefit from a flexible and tailored approach to their training, particularly post FRCR II when they are able to request specific sub-specialties according to their interests, and are encouraged to undertake out of programme experience when appropriate and there are close links between the four centres.

Specialty Information

Clinical Oncologists treat patients with malignancies using radiotherapy and systemic therapy (i.e. chemotherapy, biological therapies and hormone therapies).

Treatment for cancer is constantly evolving due to the high volume of research within this field, both in the technical aspects of radiotherapy delivery and in new drug and therapeutic approaches.

Clinical practice involves outpatient clinics, technical radiotherapy planning and the prescription of systemic treatments, and is largely outpatient or day-patient based.

Clinical Oncologists also attend multidisciplinary team meetings at which new and complex patients are discussed and form close working relationships with colleagues in medicine, surgery and radiology. 

The training lasts for a minimum of five years and includes mandatory exams in basic sciences (Part I FRCR) and a clinically based exam (Part II FRCR). Trainees are required to attend teaching courses prior to sitting part I FRCR.

Clinical Oncology is part of the Royal College of Radiologists. The web address is Details of the curriculum and the exam structure are given on the site.

Research, audit, teaching and management opportunities

There is good integration with the departments of Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine, and excellent links with major cancer research centres such as CRUK. Scotland has excellent radiotherapy equipment and trainees have access to facilities for IMRT, IGRT, stereotactic radiotherapy, and 4D radiotherapy.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

Situated in the heart of the ‘Silver City with the Golden sands’, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is a University Teaching Hospital (affiliated to both the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon’s University). It has over 900 in-patient beds and all major medical surgical and medical specialities coexist on the same site. The department of Oncology has a newly built state-of-the-art radiotherapy facility which opened in 2014, with 3 TrueBeam linear accelerators and a high dose rate brachytherapy unit. This facilitates a high percentage of patients receiving VMAT radiotherapy. Further phases of work adjoining the radiotherapy department will create the completed ‘ANCHOR Centre’ by 2020, & a newly built 29-bedded ward opened in 2012, integrated into the Emergency Care Centre, allowing ready access to multidisciplinary care for patients.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary currently has 6 NTNs in Clinical Oncology. Trainees work closely with the 8 Consultant Clinical Oncologists in tumour site-specific teams. Trainees are involved in teaching, audit and research from the start, and Out of Programme Experience is encouraged. There is an active Clinical Trials Unit with an extensive portfolio covering all common tumour types.

Aberdeen consistently scores highly in relation to schooling and quality of life, and certainly the dry cool climate and proximity to both coast and countryside allows for a huge variety of outdoor pursuits. Although perceived as being in the ‘far north’, Aberdeen has excellent transport links by rail, road and air, consistent with its place as the ‘Energy Capital of Europe’. 

Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

Edinburgh scored top in the UK in a 2015 survey for quality of life. The clinical oncology training programme has 11 trainees and the programme consistently scores high marks in the trainee surveys. In 2019 we had the joint highest number of “green flags” which indicate significantly above average feedback in that section. There is a close knit team of 26 clinical oncology consultants who consistently prioritise training and teaching and there is an established teaching programme for registrars.

Radiotherapy facilities include SABR for lung cancers, intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery, together with a varied programme of radiotherapy clinical trials which trainees are encouraged to participate in. Several trainees have taken time out to complete both clinical and lab based MDs or PhDs.

On-call is from on home and is on a combined rota formed with the 11 clinical oncology trainees and 6 medical oncologist trainees.

Audit, Quality Improvement projects and research are encouraged during training. Flexible training is fully supported and trainees often undertake overseas fellowships with recent applicants spending a year in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Edinburgh hosts the Edinburgh festival every year in August which is the world’s largest art festival and also has vibrant sporting and cultural activities available throughout the year as well as being within easy driving reach of the Highlands, North England and also excellent flight connections to Europe and beyond. 

Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow

The Beatson is the second largest cancer centre in the UK and serves approximately half of the population of Scotland (roughly 2.5 million catchment).

There are currently 21 NTNs, one of which is an academic (SCREDS) post with 20% of time devoted to research.

Radiotherapy facilities include SABR for primary lung cancers, intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery, MR and PET image registration for planning of some tumour types, together with a varied programme of radiotherapy clinical trials. An oligometastatic SABR service has also recently been set up.

There is a dedicated clinical trials unit, the Beatson is currently participating in over 160 clinical trials, including multicentre international trials run from the centre.

There are close links with the research laboratories and the Institute for Cancer Sciences at Glasgow University and CRUK at the Beatson Institute.

Our trainees have excellent clinical teaching from senior trainees and Consultants in preparation for both their Part 1 and Part 2 FRCR exams. As a result we have had excellent pass rates over the past several years.

A number of Clinical Oncology trainees undertake higher degrees (PhD and MD) out of programme at these laboratories. Several trainees have undertaken post graduate posts elsewhere in the UK and abroad.

Many medical students have undertaken successful Special Study Modules and junior doctors have attended the Beatson for taster weeks.

Glasgow training programme has a unique 2 month block of specialist Radiology and physics teaching, which is attended between parts I and II FRCR. This was commended by the Royal College of Radiologists.

There is a recently revised programme of tumour site specific teaching on Friday afternoons, developed in conjunction with the current trainees, which is bleep free. A new Scotland wide Teams based teaching has recently been set up.

There is an annual Clinical Oncology research forum at which trainees present their own research. They are given advice and support in the choice and development of their projects, some of which have resulted in international presentations.

Flexible training is fully supported. The Beatson itself is within a few minutes’ walk of the nearest train station at Hyndland.

There is a vibrant music and arts culture in the City, with a number of excellent venues and festivals. The major museums and art galleries, such as the Burrell Collection, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The Gallery of Modern Art and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery are free to enter.

The Loch Lomond National park is within thirty minutes’ drive from North Glasgow. It is possible to kayak on Loch Lomond on a summer evening and dry off on the banks in the late evening sunshine at 10pm!

Glaswegians take pride in their friendliness, and one motto of the Commonwealth Games was ‘People make Glasgow’. 

Ninewells Hospital, Dundee

Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city and enjoys a central location on the river Tay, with easy access to Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Highlands. It has always been a hub for design and innovation and in 2014 was awarded the UKs first UNESCO city of design. It is also home to a thriving biomedical technology industry and two large Universities, Abertay and Dundee, which is ranked 1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK for Medicine. It offers a fantastic quality of life with great value for money in terms of housing and schooling.  Beautiful beaches and most leisure activities are available close by with particularly good facilities for hill walking, climbing, sailing, skiing and golf. 

Ninewells Hospital and Medical School is a major general teaching hospital. In addition to a comprehensive range of medical, surgical and critical care services it houses one of Scotland’s Regional Cancer Centres and provides, on a single site, all Surgical, Radiotherapy, and Chemotherapy services. The hospital is a designated Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) and the oncology department enjoys strong links with the University with an extensive programme of cancer research undertaken on the Ninewells site.

We currently have four NTNs. Training is based in the Tayside Cancer Centre, which consists of a 26-bedded ward; a 12 bedded 5-day chemotherapy unit; a chemotherapy day area and an outpatient department. We have three modern Varian Linear Accelerators and a PDR brachytherapy facility. IMRT is routinely delivered as well as lung SABR. 

We are a friendly, cohesive, forward-looking department of 6 Clinical and 4 Medical Oncology Consultants working within site-specific multidisciplinary teams. Teaching, Audit, Quality Improvement work and Out of Programme Experience (OOPE) are actively encouraged. Ultimately, we endeavour to ensure that our trainees enjoy a supportive environment and training, which is tailored to meet their individual needs.

Where is the training delivered?
Training is delivered across:

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Beatson (the) West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh

Contacts and Useful Links
Programme Type Deanery based or National: National
Administration office West of Scotland
Lead Dean / Director Professor Alastair McLellan
Responsible Associate Postgraduate Dean or Assistant Director (GP) Dr Clive Goddard
Specialty or Sub-specialty Specialty or Sub-specialty: Specialty
Date of GMC recent approval October 2020
Associated Royal College - Faculty
Royal College of Radiologists (web site)
Curriculum and Associated Assessment System
Programme Administrator: Named Programme Administrator: Tayler Scott
Address: NHS Education for Scotland, 2CQ, 89 Hydepark Street, Glasgow G3 8BW
Programme Director Programme Director Name: Graeme Lumsden
Address: Additional Contacts: Glasgow - Carolynn Lamb ( ) Edinburgh - Alastair Law ( ) Edinburgh - Tamasin Evans ( ) Dundee - Ian Sanders ( Aberdeen - Ravi Sharma ( )
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